The new millennium has finally arrived and technological advancements are still being made at a rate faster than is often conceivable. Among the various inventions and discoveries of the modern era is one that has already become a mediocre item to the average individual – the cell phone. As one takes a stroll down the street, grabs a bite to eat, or simply takes a single step into the outside world, one may realize that nearly each and every individual is affected by the cell phone phenomenon. Cell phones are a means by which individuals are able to communicate with others that are not present. However, the fascinating characteristic of the cell phone is that it allows the personal and private act of talking on the phone to take place in public, around complete strangers. As a result, the cell phone has various roles as a mode of communication; whereas one may use the cell phone simply to ensure connection and communication with people not around, others may treat the cell phone as a mechanism used to display a specific attitude towards outsiders. These varying manners in which people utilize the cell phone are extremely significant. The cell phone, when utilized as both a means of communication with a single person and the general public, simultaneously depicts the users inherent dependency on other people, as well as an element of the user’s sociability, confidence, and importance.
The cell phone is a channel by which people may communicate a message both in an interpersonal and mass fashion; however, the typical perception of the cell phone is that is a form of interpersonal communication. When Jane was preparing to leave the house to see a movie, I suddenly felt the need to question her instinctive drive to toss her cell phone into her purse. It perplexed me that Jane felt she would answer a phone call or need to initiate a phone call while sitting in a dark theater. Jane responded that at any possible moment an emergency could occur and her cell phone would be the only possible thing that could save her. She explained that it comforted her to know that in case her mother, who is currently ill, needed to reach a hospital, Jane will be the first to know and respond promptly, no matter where she may be. In addition, Jane stated that she nevertheless needed to always know that if she became stuck on the freeway due to a shortage of gas, help is only a phone call away. After hearing these comments, Jane’s reasons for making sure to grab the cell phone seemed plausible and acceptable. Jane utilizes the cell phone as a possible form of communicate during emergencies, and carrying a cell phone with her provides Jane with a feeling of comfort and security when going out into the world.
Although Jane’s usage of the cell phone is practical and understandable, Jane nevertheless contains a dependency on her cell phone that seems slightly unnatural. This is a result of the fact that Jane ranks her cell phone as one of her most necessary and helpful material possessions, even above the car that she drives. When questioning Jane about this comment, she stated that she doesn’t always take her car when leaving her house, but prefers to walk to most of her destinations. As a result, Jane feels that she will take her cell phone with her and possibly utilize it while outside more than she utilizes her car on a regular basis. This perception of the cell phone did not seem accurate; I believed a car would be a better means to transport one to the hospital, rather than a dinky piece of metal that would allow one to only make a phone call to the hospital. I soon realized that Jane’s need to carry her cell phone around at all times due to the possibility of an emergency was not only inaccurately rooted, but also possibly more hazardous. This became clear as I noticed, upon entering Jane’s car, that her gas level was near empty. I asked Jane if she wished to stop at a gas station, upon which Jane replied, “If we get stuck on the road, I’ll just call for assistance.” Jane’s dependency on her cell phone is so extreme that she does not even attempt to take all measures to ensure that an accident and emergency does not occur. (IE: getting gas). Rather, she contains the inaccurate belief that all can and will be saved with the aid of her cell phone. While maintaining this attitude towards her cell phone Jane may potentially be placing herself in further danger. Jane and other people who maintain a similar dependency on the cell phone, may not think twice about walking alone at night or even getting into a stranger’s car, because of the feeling that help is just a phone call away. This attitude, as a result, allows us to realize that cell phones may become a negative form of communication if an unhealthy dependency on the cell phone exists and persists.
Cell phones, in addition to promoting a possibly dangerous dependency on others, also depict and promote an unhealthy dependency on others in regular life, day to day situations. This is clear upon observing various women in several shopping malls and clothing stores. When entering the GAP, I noticed a young woman in her mid-twenties scanning a row of dresses. The woman decided to take seven completely different styled dresses with her into the dressing room. After leaving the dressing room, I noticed that the woman walked out with only a single dress in hand. However, while waiting in line to pay, the woman took out her cell phone in order to describe the dress to a friend in great length. After about five minutes of a conversation solely about the dress, the woman walked out of line and returned the dress back to its rack. I was completely in shock; the woman, rather than using her own judgement, decided not to buy the dress based on the word of her friend who has never even perceived the dress. I then realized that it was essentially the cell phone that allowed the woman to call her friend and ask what decision to make regarding the possible purchase. As a result, the cell phone has become a mechanism for communication to the point to which it inhibits our personal judgements and allows us to instead rely on those of our loved ones, friends, and business associates in all day to day situations. The cell phone essentially provides people with the comforting feeling that we are not alone in the world and in the actions we take, but that an additional guide and aid will always be present. This communication that the cell phone provides may, however, be viewed as inhibiting to personal growth and independence, because it encourages the easier route of relying on others to assume our decisions rather than on ourselves.
In addition to increasing our dependency on others, communication through the cell phone provides for and encourages our interpersonal imperative, or our human drive and need to be social. Among the three basic social needs, cell phones allow people to develop both an inclusion and a control need. The cell phone provides for the possibility of interaction with others who are not present through speech, at any place or any time. As a result, the cell phone allows people to connect with others and share their experiences while they are actually taking place, and to thus allow others to feel included at all times. This is clear as Jack, while sick in bed, was unable to attend a basketball game that he previously bought tickets for. Nevertheless, Bob still attended the game, and took his cell phone with him with the intention of calling Jack during the sporting event. Although the television in Jack’s home was able to communicate to him every single move and action taken by each player on both teams, Jack nevertheless felt disappointed and unconnected to the game. When Jack suddenly received a phone call from Bob during the last quarter of the game when the favoring team was down by one, Jack became anxious and excited. Jack was able to actually hear the crowd cheering and the buzzard sounding, and thus was provided with the feeling that he was actually at the game. When the game was over, Bob called Jack again and discussed the exciting ending, as well as informed Jack of his after game plans. At this point, the cell phone allowed Bob to communicate with Jack in an extremely personal and important way; Jack felt included in the event of attending the basketball game, and Bob was able to fulfill his human drive to communicate with another friend during the game. Thus, as seen through this example, the cell phone encourages people to feel dependent on other human beings in an additional sense; the cell phone allows people to share and communicate their lives, regardless of the time, place, or circumstance.
Cell phones expand the possibility for people to exhibit and communicate their need for control over situations and other people. While Mike was driving his car on his way to the airport, I noticed him feeling anxious and troubled. Suddenly, he took out his cell phone and began to make various calls. Carrie was coming into town, and he wanted to make sure that all would be planned and well for her during her visit. Mike made arrangements with various people the entire time we drove to the airport, with all conversations lasting only under five minutes. As a result, I realized that Mike was nervous to see Carrie, and in order to calm himself down and relax he needed to exhibit some type of control over the fact that she was coming into town. I later discovered that Mike had a romantic interest in Carrie, and that explained his constant look of anxiety. Nevertheless, Mike was only able to calm himself down by feeling that he may control the future situation of seeing Carrie in some way or another. As a result, the cell phone became not only a mode for Mike to communicate and arrange plans, but also became a tool used by Mike to feel more relaxed and at ease with himself. The use of the cell phone allowed Mike to feel that he may play the role of the social coordinator, and thus provided him with a sense of control over others. This sense is one that Mike desired extremely, because he felt worried and at a loss of control when pondering his relationship with Carrie. Thus, in this case, the cell phone allowed Mike to communicate therapeutically; Mike became dependent on the cell phone in order to gain a sense of control and release from his inner feelings of frustration and worry.
In addition to the cell phone’s role as a mode of interpersonal communication through the use of language, the cell phone also allows people to communicate with others without the use of direct speech. When Carrie arrived and came off the plane, I noticed that Mike, after making his greetings, once again took out his cell phone. Mike made various calls to several girls, claiming that he needed to let them know that his plans with them for the night were cancelled due to Carrie’s arrival in town. I realized that Mike obviously could have broken off those plans before hand and did not need to make the phone calls right then at the airport. However, Mike was attempting to communicate to Carrie that he is well liked and a popular guy that can get many girls. Mike, unable to flirt on his own, utilized his cell phone conversations as a tool for flirting. Carrie responded, and made a comment that seemed to express jealousy of the girl on the other end of the line, as well as an attraction towards Mike. Thus, the cell phone may successfully replace the verbal communication between two people, primarily when it is difficult for people to flirt and express themselves through words. Although Mike exhibited an attitude of self-confidence and relayed a feeling of importance to Carrie, his dependency on the cell phone to aid in flirting and expressing his emotions actually represents his inner lack of self-esteem.
In addition to communicating non-verbally with the cell phone interpersonally, many utilize the cell phone to communicate to the masses a feeling of self-confidence and importance. While standing in a line at a movie theater, I realized that the man in front of me was talking on his cell phone extremely loudly. He was having a conversation about the new job that he just received, and explained to the listener the details of his interview. I was suddenly shocked when I heard the man begin to discuss his thoughts about his new boss, and his feeling that the boss will hopefully be fired soon and the man will gain position as head supervisor. It seemed rather odd that the man did not mind discussing negative feelings regarding his workplace out in public. After hanging up the phone, I noticed that the man attempted to cut in line, and his wishes were well respected by the person in front of him. I then realized that the man did not mind carrying on a conversation revealing his inner desires for status and lack of concern for fellow co-workers because he was not afraid to depict to the world that he is someone that should not be reckoned with and pushed around. Thus, the man was able to save his time and avoid causing a fight with the other members in line simply through his cell phone conversation.
As a result, cell phones allow people to communicate all that they desire to the rest of the world about themselves, without having to deal with direct, verbal confrontation.
As the possibilities for communication in the modern world continue to expand, cell phones contribute greatly and remain to be a significant influence on both interpersonal and mass communication. Cell phones allow people to feel connected and in touch with the rest of the world at every single moment, providing people with a feeling of comfort, control, and importance. Ironically enough, however, cell phones reveal our inner needs for dependency on others, as well as our inability to communicate through direct speech at all times. The rapid consumption of cell phones in American culture perhaps encourages a reverse in our development. Although people seem to be communicating, connecting, and growing more and more while utilizing the cell phone on a daily basis, they are in fact, avoiding the usage of their own judgements and reasoning. It seems that without the cell phone our lives would be terribly threatened, and it is solely because we have developed an unhealthy dependency on the cell phone that we have nearly lost that which once constituted our own.